Whilst I welcome the opportunity which Prince Andrew has to a jury trial in relation to the allegations against him, I regret the fact that civil litigants in the UK are denied that same right. When I began my legal career back in the early 1970s around 3% of civil high court trials took place with the jury, mainly, but not exclusively where the allegations were ones of defamation. Now that has all gone. The reason why judges and politicians dislike the jury system is that it introduces the human concept of right and wrong into what would otherwise be the dry application of abstract law to a set of facts. In other words, it gives citizens too much power in the judicial system. The landmark case which abolished juries in civil cases was the Court of Appeal decision in Ward v James 1966. However Ward v James was primarily concerned only with personal injury claims in which there was little factual dispute. Only whether there was liability and, if so, how much damages should be awarded. But Denning also said, “Let it not be supposed that this court is in any way opposed to trial by jury. It has been the bulwark of our liberties for too long for any of us to seek to alter it. Whenever a man is on trial for a serious crime, or when in a civil case a man’s integrity is at stake or where one or other party must be lying, then a trial by jury has no equal”.
Clutching our money we kept our appointment at the Harley Street surgery. But we were to be disappointed. As we checked in at 8am, a nurse took us into a private room and said to me, “I’m sorry. The sterilising machine has broken down You can’t have the abortion here”.
“Oh my God! What am I going to do?”
“It’s not just you. Everybody has to go to Golders Green.”
So we drive to Golders Green. As there were lots of other ladies in the same position to me who didn’t have a car, we took two of them in the back seat.
We arrived at a large dirty house in Golders Green. Upstairs on the first floor there was a nursing home. I was in tears. Then a doctor came over. He was a geriatric English doctor with big glasses and covered up hair. He reminded me of an old Doctor Jekyll. He said, “Don’t cry. No need to cry. What is your name?”
I glanced round at the shabby surroundings and said, “I don’t want to have an abortion here.”